Christmas in Mustang Creek

Christmas in Mustang Creek

by Linda Lael Miller

Hardcover(Original)

$17.99
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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780373779086
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 09/29/2015
Series: The Brides of Bliss County
Edition description: Original
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

The daughter of a town marshal, Linda Lael Miller is the author of more than 100 historical and contemporary novels. Now living in Spokane, Washington, the “First Lady of the West” hit a career high when all three of her 2011 Creed Cowboy books debuted at #1 on the New York Times list. In 2007, the Romance Writers of America presented her their Lifetime Achievement Award. She personally funds her Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women. Visit her at www.lindalaelmiller.com.

Date of Birth:

June 10, 1949

Read an Excerpt

Charlotte Morgan shouldn't have checked her bag for the flight from New York to Wyoming. Her layover in Denver had already been far longer than planned because of a storm that was coming in from the West Coast, and now she was—-finally—waiting by a luggage carousel at the Cheyenne airport. And waiting… As her friend Karin always said, there were two kinds of luggage—carry-on and lost. And hers appeared to be of the lost variety.

December 21 meant it was almost the festive season, but her spirits were definitely on the low side.

This airport mess was typical of the dismal way her luck had been running lately.

Let's see. She'd had to arrange for her aunt Geneva to move into assisted living. Dealing with that, mostly by email and over the phone, hadn't been easy. Then there was the fact that a stranger was staying at Geneva's house, the house Charlotte had grown up in. Of course, she'd questioned her aunt about Mrs. Klozz, asking how she and the mysterious visitor had met, but Geneva's answers had been consistently vague, even evasive.

Worried, Charlotte had called Spencer Hogan, an old friend and Mustang Creek's chief of police, to request a background check. He'd chuckled and said that wouldn't be necessary; Mrs. Klozz was, as he'd put it, "all right."

Finally, Charlotte had decided to drop the subject. She'd meet the woman soon enough and form her own opinion.

Despite all this, she felt uneasy.

Then—just when she'd thought things couldn't get any worse—she'd been laid off. Merry, merry Christmas.

Oh, the company, an advertising firm, had given her a generous enough severance package. Her boss had explained that budget cuts were taking a toll on everyone.

Not on him, apparently. His job seemed to be safe, unlike her own. It had taken some effort to not say something to that effect, but in truth, she just wanted to go home.

As she watched everyone retrieving luggage while hers was, predictably, nowhere in sight, she realized how ironic it was—as a teenager, she'd been convinced that all she wanted was to leave the small town of Mustang Creek, become successful, meet the right man and never look back. She'd done it. She'd left. She'd gotten a great job. She'd met the right man. But she sure had looked back.

There was one other hopeful passenger waiting, and they exchanged a shrug of commiseration. The carousel was still moving, so maybe…

Yep, she'd left the small town. Got the dream job—and lost it. Met one Dr. Jaxon Locke, fell in love, and that hadn't worked, either.

The other passenger won the lottery and his case slid down.

"Happy holidays," he said in sympathy as he hurried away.

Then…a Christmas miracle! Her suitcase actually bumped out—no more than two seconds before she was going to head over to the airline counter to fill in the claim form—and began the journey toward her. Yay! Clean underwear for Christmas.

Aunt Geneva would tell her to count her blessings, and as she heaved her bag off the carousel and wheeled it toward the rental car area, Charlotte actually smiled. Things were already looking up. Oh, she still had to make the drive home with a giant storm roaring in, coasting a clipper from the Arctic, but at least she had her clothing. She'd need to make arrangements to have everything else sold or shipped home but would deal with that headache later. Her ridiculously expensive apartment had been sublet and all the rest of it was in storage.

The snow was coming in sideways when she finally reached her rental car. Nothing like driving an unfamiliar rig in bad weather, she thought, as she climbed into the midsize sedan and turned the key in the ignition.

She was on her way home.

After seven years in New York City.

Back in the day, she'd craved the city life, but now she simply wanted to get back to that big old drafty house, that comfortable house, where she'd grown up. Mustang Creek was the kind of small town where, if you sneezed, people were concerned you might be coming down with something and offered you their grandmother's favorite remedy. She wanted the fragrance of grass in the summer, the view of the Tetons, the old grape arbor in the backyard.

She wanted home.

Geneva needed her, Charlotte mused as she tried to figure out how to turn on the windshield wipers. But she might need this change even more. Losing her job wasn't a financial catastrophe since her aunt had taught her a lot about saving her money. She hated that the vibrant woman she remembered was slowly fading. Still, Charlotte viewed her own changed circumstances as a positive in some ways. They'd be able to spend time together. Quality time. Not just the fly-in, fly-out visits of the past few years. She could take care of the house, maybe use some of her savings to fix it up. The place had needed a new roof for at least ten years. She'd offered to pay for it more than once, but Aunt Geneva, her only living relative, had declined.

Stubborn pride was a family trait, no question about that. She came by hers honestly.

She should've looked more closely at the forecast, she decided when whirls of snow, like errant ghosts, circled her car. Almost no one else was traveling, which was just as well, since she could barely see enough to stay in her own lane. Other than the dim lights of one car some distance behind her, she had the road to herself.

She was happy that she'd grabbed coffee and a sandwich in the Denver airport, although—exhausted as she was—she could've used another coffee right now. She slowed her speed even more as she squinted at the increasing whiteout conditions. There was one other immediate problem she hadn't considered. She didn't have keys to the house. Aunt Geneva had been a seamstress, working at home; she was a wizard with her machine and had probably made most of the wedding dresses in Bliss County for the past half century. So Charlotte had never really needed one.

To be honest, she wasn't even sure there were keys. The doors with their beautiful faceted glass panels were original, and to her knowledge the locks had never been replaced. Maybe Aunt Geneva had given keys to the friend who was watching her house and taking care of her beloved cat and dog, but it was already after ten, and she wasn't going to get to Mustang Creek anytime soon at this speed.

It seemed wrong to go pounding on the door at midnight when she didn't even know this Millicent Klozz. She certainly didn't want to wake the poor woman from a sound sleep.

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" came on the radio, and Charlotte turned up the volume. She loved the song, which brought back memories of getting tucked into bed on Christmas Eve, Geneva reading her a story and forbidding her to go downstairs until daybreak.

She'd always heeded this admonition—except for the year she was seven. She'd gone downstairs in the middle of the night—not all the way down that creaky staircase because she'd known she'd get caught—and seen the packages under the tree. When she'd heard Aunt Geneva get up—for a drink of water, judging by the running tap—Charlotte had taken a small liberty and peeked at the gifts. Most of them had her name on them.

Then she'd climbed into her aunt's bed and nestled there, eyes wide. When Geneva had rolled over, she'd given a small scream, obviously not expecting a small face right next to hers, dimly visible in the glow of the hallway night-light.

"Santa was here," Charlotte had informed her excitedly.

"I hope he brought me a new heart," Geneva had replied, after gasping and pressing her hand to her chest. "Lord, child, you startled me."

"He came to our house!"

Charlotte still remembered Geneva hugging her, remembered the warmth of her arms, the loving smile on her face. "Of course he did."

Negotiating a slick turn, Charlotte wondered what her aunt had sacrificed to make sure Santa came to their house every year. As a child she hadn't comprehended the effort that went into raising a toddler. Especially if you'd inherited that responsibility in your late fifties, because your much younger sister and her husband had died tragically in a train accident. Geneva had been single and inexperienced with tantrums and packing lunches, and later on, cheerleading practice and track meets, sleepovers with giggling girls.

Her aunt had done it all unf linchingly, and when it had come time for college, given her guidance, but let her choose. Now it was Charlotte's turn to give back.

Jaxon Locke had been chased all the way from Idaho by the storm and it was starting to catch up with him, mentally and physically.

He had no idea if he was being an idiot or not, going to Mustang Creek. After their breakup just over a year ago, he'd continued, though casually, to follow Charlotte Morgan on social media—they'd "friended" each other. A few days before, he'd checked in on her page and discovered that she'd left the firm. Even if she hadn't mentioned her plans to return to Wyoming, he would have known where she was headed.

No part of him believed it was a coincidence that both he and Charlotte had ties to Mustang Creek. She'd been raised there, and he'd been hired by his friend Nate Cameron to work as a veterinarian in Nate's practice.

He'd met Charlotte—Charlie, he called her—through an online dating service. Sort of.

Except he'd cheated. Sort of. He'd sat next to the girlfriend of one of his college roommates at a cocktail party. The event had taken place in midtown Manhattan. He had been working in a nearby Connecticut town at the time, and he'd come into the city for his friend Remy's wedding. This woman had studied him over the rim of her cosmopolitan glass, then asked, "Single?"

No doubt she'd made that assumption because while he'd taken the time to pick out what he considered a nice shirt, he'd still worn jeans and boots. His best boots, expensive, but he'd probably looked like a cowboy. "Not married, not dating," he'd answered wryly. "The invitation said casual dress. I took it to heart."

Her lips had twitched. "You could use a haircut, too, but the look you've got going suits your style. Put you in an Armani suit, give you a five-o'clock shadow and you could be on the cover of a magazine. You're from where?"

"Originally, Idaho."

She'd gotten right to the point. "I know just the girl for you."

He'd doubted that, not only because she was dressed in three-inch heels, wore too much perfume and spent most of the time talking on her cell phone, but also because they were strangers. "You don't know anything about me."

"Sure I do. Remy's mentioned you before. You're an animal doctor, right? You and Remy and a bunch of other guys all met at Ohio State."

He'd nodded. "We shared a house. And, yes, I'm a veterinarian."

She'd leaned in a little closer. "I work with this girl who's beautiful, smart and hates the city as much as you obviously do but won't admit it. Loves animals and is from a small town. Here's the catch. She refuses blind dates from friends. I do know that she's recently joined an online dating service. Let me write down her name for you, plus the site info. It won't hurt to check out her profile." Her smile was audacious. "Don't tell her I had anything to do with it."

"Since I don't know your name, that would be impossible."

"We'll do official introductions if the two of you actually get together, okay?"

"Okay with me," he'd said, figuring nothing would come of this odd conversation anyway.

"She's a Wyoming girl, Mr. Cowboy. I have a feeling you'll ride off for bluer skies and fresher air soon—and I think she will, too."

The deliberately mysterious woman's cell had rung again and while she'd answered it, she'd scribbled down Charlotte Morgan on a napkin, along with the name of a popular dating site.

Even though he'd basically just been playing along, passing the time, Jax had realized he was curious enough to take a look at Ms. Morgan's profile.

He'd never even considered online dating. Later, when he got home, he'd typed in the information and, eventually, been completely…well, the English would have called it gobsmacked.

Charlotte Morgan was beautiful, all right. More than beautiful.

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Christmas in Mustang Creek 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Drags on forever with not being able to decide about love and marriage.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sugarpine721 More than 1 year ago
BooksAndSpoons More than 1 year ago
There's a lot to like in this Christmas story, a sweet second chance romance, lovely small town folks, a bit of Christmas magic, and a lot great food. The story is riddled with humor, the tone is fun and light, and kept a smile on my face as I was reading. The heat was up a notch from the previous Christmas stories, and the romance, that has lots of potential. Jaxon is caring, honest, good, and sexy vet, taking care of the animals as well as the people around him. I loved his honesty. From the beginning he was not shy about his feelings towards Charlotte. His intentions were openly talked about, he had a goal in his mind, to be with Charlotte, and was willing to work towards it. Charlotte was hesitant, she wasn't sure what she wanted in life, when it came to career, love, or anything else. The only thing she seemed to be sure about, was to try to hold Jaxon on an arm's length. But while she is trying to figure out what her future holds, she keeps falling deeper and deeper for Jaxon, and who could blame her, really. The story is entertaining, Mrs Klozz made me laugh. The town grape wine is hilarious, and the Christmas spirits are high. The whole story takes place in just a few days time, lots of it is lovely Christmas fluff. But I guess that would make this a perfect read during the holidays, and ideal stocking stuffing for any and all romance lovers! ~ Four Spoons
CrystalCB More than 1 year ago
Christmas in Mustang Creek is one of those fabulous books that I picked up to read the blurb, and then maybe just a page or two, and before I know it two hours have passed and I'm half way through the book. It has been a while since I have had the pleasure of reading a book by Linda Lael Miller. It wasn't long into the first few pages that I quickly remembered why I love this lady's work. She has a flare for drawing me into the storyline and bonding me to the characters so quickly that I'm engrossed and lost in story land before I even notice that the pages are flying by. Charlotte Morgan has faced some major changes in her life. Now she is on her way back to her home town and the home she was raised in. Her dear Aunt that raised her is in need of medical assistance and Charlotte has to come to grips with all the changes in her world. I quickly bonded to Charlotte due to her strong sense of family and loyalty. She's a very sweet and very smart lady that has reached a point in her life where nothing makes sense anymore. She needs to find herself and figure out what she is going to do next. Jaxon Locke meet Charlotte in New York and has not been able to forget her and the love he has in his heart for her. Jax is one of those super sweet guys that loves animals, little old ladies, and Charlotte. How could you not fall in love with this guy. He's adorable! Charlotte and Jax re-meet in an interesting situation that adds a touch of drama, humor, and tension to the story. These two are entertaining to watch while they are getting to know each other again, while they fight that massive chemistry between them, and try to out maneuver the meddling ladies in their lives. Charlotte and Jax both have a lot of things to deal with in their own lives and a few things to work out together if they are going to find their way to a happily ever after. I must mention Mrs. Klozz the little older lady that is taking care of Charlotte's Aunt's house until Charlotte arrives. She is also there to do some of the cookie, to spoil them all a little bit and do a whole lot of meddling in their lives after Charlotte arrives. She seems like the nicest, sweetest lady that everyone could use in their life even more at Christmas time. Did I mention this is a Christmas story? Some of you know how much I adore Christmas stories, so you can imagine my joy reading this one. Overall, Linda Lael Miller has written a fabulous reunion story, with great family connections, a few holiday mysteries, a whole lot of love, romance, and some very adorable animals to add in the perfect recipe for a great book. What is there not to love about this book? I know I sure couldn't find anything. I loved it! I received the opportunity to read this great story so that I may share my thoughts with you. As always it has been my great pleasure to share my thoughts with you on Christmas in Mustang Creek.
Dianne57 More than 1 year ago
This was a perfectly acceptable Christmas romance; however, I hated the fact that the first half or so of this book was mostly filled with inner-dialoguing and a lot of angst. You have to understand the level of romance in this book –this couple had already been in love and things just didn’t truly work out. Each one wanted something different out of life. Now that Jax has heard that Charlie is back in Mustang Creek and he comes and takes a job there to win back Charlies heart. Sweet and perfect for the season right? The second half of this book engages the reader so much more and the sexual tension builds. They sure do get a lot of help from Mrs. Klozz, Aunt Geneva and a possible business venture –eventually Charlie and Jax get their HEA and a lovely Christmas to boot. It was a lovely read, but I’m not so sure that it is going on my re-read shelf…for sure it will go on to my Christmas books shelf though and maybe someday down the road I’ll pull it out again. ARC Supplied by publisher.
GHott More than 1 year ago
Christmas in Mustang Creek is a perfect Christmas novel! It’s sweet, fun, and has just a touch of magic. I loved the characters of Charlotte and Jaxon, but Mrs. Klozz just took the cake. She completely pulled this story from cute to perfect.
Lashea677 More than 1 year ago
I am addicted to holiday movies, reads and programming. Every year I look forward to February and December(the best times of year to feed my addiction.). Christmas in Mustang Creek brought the magic, romance and good feelings a couple of months early. Linda Lael Miller has provided an outlet of escapism that is a fairy tale come to life. Charlotte is in the doldrums and feeling sorry for herself. A trip home may be just the remedy to lift her spirits. The Hallmark card setting, the feeling of traditional values and love, the mystery in the air and lastly the beautiful romance made this story a dream to read. Was sad to see it end. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.